The Basics of Antioxidants
The word antioxidant is everywhere today, and while you may know that they’re a good thing to include in your diet, you may not know why or even how to best include them. Luckily for followers of the paleo diet, most of the foods that are staples of a paleo diet are also rich in antioxidants.
To put it simply, antioxidants are nutrients or substances found in the foods we eat that can slow or prevent damage to our bodies that occurs through oxidation. When the cells that make up our bodies use oxygen, the cells produce a byproduct called free radicals, and these free radicals can cause damage to our cells. Antioxidants can prevent or slow the damage done to our bodies by these free radicals, so it’s important to include foods high in antioxidants in our diets on a daily basis. Shellfish and seafood, fruits and vegetables and nuts are all great sources of antioxidants, and also important parts of any paleo diet.
The most commonly known antioxidants are vitamin A and carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium.
Vitamin A and carotenoids can be found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Think carrots, squash, apricots, and peaches. These vitamins can also be found in bright green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale.
We’ve all heard the wives tales about vitamin C and preventing common colds, and while this may or may not be true, foods with high levels of vitamin C are great for fighting free radicals. Foods that are rich in vitamin C are of course citrus fruits, but also green peppers, leafy green vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes.
Vitamin E is great for the appearance of our skin, and it makes it appear more elastic and youthful, and this is in part because vitamin E is full of antioxidants. Foods that are rich in vitamin E include nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, leafy green vegetables, and oils, such as olive and coconut.
Selenium may be the least well known of the antioxidants on this list, but seafood and shellfish and full of this free radical-fighting mineral. In addition to seafood and shellfish, you’re also going to get selenium from red meat, chicken and eggs, all of which are staples of the paleo diet.
Many people supplement their diet with antioxidants, or hope to substitute good nutrition with sugary drinks claiming to have antioxidants, but a well-rounded paleo diet consisting of lean means, nuts, eggs and brightly colored fruits and vegetables is actually the best way to prevent damage from free radicals from occurring in your body.
Oxidation is thought to be a cause of many modern diseases, and a great diet is one step to being healthier and preventing future health problems.